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Syracuse University’s Newhouse School announces naming of Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture
Syracuse University’s Newhouse School announces naming of Bleier Center for Television and Popular CultureNovember 16, 2005Jaime Winne Alvarez firstname.lastname@example.org
Two nationally recognized media figures are combining resources in Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, according to Newhouse School Dean David Rubin. Trustee Professor of Television and Popular Culture Robert Thompson, a widely acknowledged expert on popular television and director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at the Newhouse School, will have his work underwritten and expanded by longtime media executive Edward Bleier ’51 in the renamed Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture.
“Professor Thompson and the Newhouse School have been pioneers in taking seriously the study of popular television in an academic setting,” says Rubin. “In the past eight years, Thompson has staked his claim as the leading public intellectual, not only on the subject of television, but on many aspects of popular culture.
“With this generous sustaining support from our devoted alumnus Ed Bleier, who had a hand in creating much of the popular culture we study, the work of the center will expand. His gift will permit us to bring in visiting faculty and connect the center’s work to other parts of Syracuse University, which has additional expertise in the area of media and popular culture. As a result, we foresee Syracuse University as the leading academic center in the U.S. for the study of television and popular culture, with the Bleier Center playing a major role.”
Opened in 1997, the Center for the Study of Popular Television has concentrated on the medium’s history, aesthetics, business practices and content. Through teaching, archiving, publishing and interviewing key figures, the center researches, documents and disseminates information about American television. Additionally, the center brings visiting professors to campus to teach courses in television history and American popular culture; supports research at SU by soliciting proposals for funding in support of research projects, books and articles; is a source of expertise to the nation’s media on all aspects of television and American popular culture; has produced a large series of books on television, published through SU Press; and maintains an extensive audio and video archive of interviews with pioneers of television.
“Over the past eight years, the work of the Center for the Study of Popular Television has been expanding to include a wider range of subjects in American popular culture,” says Thompson. “This grant will help us to continue that expansion, and our new name will reflect it.”
With this grant, the Bleier Center will assume a more prominent role in Newhouse’s globally acclaimed programs, alongside current construction of the school’s third dedicated building, financed with a substantial gift from the Newhouse Foundation and the support of many others.
Bleier, an SU alumnus, has been a key executive in implementing changes in the media landscape, principally at Time Warner/Warner Bros. and ABC-TV. At ABC in the 1960s, he at various times headed daytime and children’s programming; news, sports and prime-time sales; and marketing, public relations and long-range planning. From 1969-2004, while at Warner Bros., Bleier was a key player in Warner Communications’ development of cable systems, cable networks, home video, sports and its 1990 merger with Time Inc.
“Media, particularly popular media, are the new DNA of our global society. With Internet and satellite, ideas, images, stories and information affect every aspect of the world, often instantly,” says Bleier. “The content of American media is so pervasive-for good or ill-it must be seriously taught and examined. Bob Thompson is at the forefront and I am honored to add my support.”
Edward Bleier ’51As president of Warner Bros.’ Domestic Pay-TV, Cable and Network division, Bleier headed Warner Bros.’ classic animation and dealt with the development of major cable and satellite distribution companies and the now hundreds of national cable/satellite networks. In the early 1980s, he joined a consortium at MIT’s Media Lab that led to early relationships with Internet operators and his ultimate election to the board of RealNetworks, a leading creator of digital media services and software, particularly in music and games. After his retirement from Warner Bros., he became a director of Blockbuster, Inc., the retailer and renter of movies, TV videos and games; and of CKX, Inc., a new aggregator of content, companies, programs and creative resources being assembled by the successful entrepreneur Robert F.X. Sillerman. Bleier was at the forefront of the evolution of media in his pro bono work as organizer of 15 Aspen Institute conferences between leaders of the communications industry and world leaders in government, science and economics. He chaired an educational organization started by Frank Stanton, the Center for Communication, and was president of the International Radio and Television Society, as well as co-recipient of the Steven J. Ross award from UJA Federation’s Media/Communication/Entertainment Division. In 2003, he published “The Thanksgiving Ceremony” (Crown), a New York Times bestseller, starting a new tradition of observance and celebration of this favorite holiday. Bleier’s friend from undergraduate days, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist William Safire, wrote the book’s foreword. While students at SU, Bleier and Safire collaborated with entertainment personality Dick Clark on the University radio program “Say Hello” in 1950. Bleier resides in NYC with his wife Magda Palacci, a French-language journalist.
Robert ThompsonThompson is founding director of SU’s Center for the Study of Popular Television, now the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture. He is a Trustee Professor of Television and Popular Culture in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He was a visiting professor for six summers at Cornell University and served for nine years as professor and director of the N.H.S.I. Television and Film Institute at Northwestern University. Thompson is general editor of an ongoing series of books about television published by Syracuse University Press. He is the former president of the National Popular CultureAssociation and lectures across the country on the subject of television and popular culture. In 1991 and 1992, he was awarded the Stephen H. Coltrin Award for Excellence in Communication Theory by the International Radio and Television Society. Thompson is the author/editor of five books and is currently working on a history of television. Hundreds of radio and television programs and publications have featured his commentary on media criticism, popular culture, television history and television programming. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago and master’s and doctoral degrees in radio, television and film from Northwestern University.